DUP says George Galloway talk at Ulster Hall 'irresponsible' and 'could incite hatred' towards Jews
The DUP has said allowing George Galloway to give a talk at the Ulster Hall would be "irresponsible" as it could incite hatred towards Israeli and Jewish people in Belfast.
The DUP Group on Belfast City Council has requested a review of the decision by council officers to grant the use of the hall for a talk by the Bradford West MP on August 23.
Saturday Night with George Galloway has been promoted as a "one-off show with one of the most outspoken and opinionated figures in British politics", to talk about issues "on both sides of the water and beyond".
Mr Galloway is currently under investigation by West Yorkshire Police after he called for his constituency to be "declared an Israel-free zone".
Video footage showed him urging Bradford residents to reject all Israeli goods, services, academics and even tourists.
Belfast councillor Brian Kingston said: "George Galloway goes far beyond calling for a boycott. He is rejecting and demonising an entire country and its people, describing it as illegal, barbarous and savage.
"By extension, many will view these comments as applying to all people of Jewish faith."
He said the DUP had "grave concerns" about providing a venue for Mr Galloway "at this time of heightened tension and believe it would be irresponsible to do so".
He added: "We are deeply concerned that hosting this speaker at this time will be harmful to community relations in Belfast and could incite hatred towards Israeli and Jewish people in our city, as well as causing reputational damage to the council."
Responding to the DUP's concerns, Mr Galloway said: "To be lectured on good relations by the DUP is a bit like being told to sit up straight by the Hunchback of Notre Dame.
"It's a commercial contract with the Ulster Hall, signed, sealed and will be delivered, except on terms of very severe compensation.
"A great deal of money has already been spent, the tickets are going like hot cakes, so a great deal of income would be lost and that would be a very bad deal for the taxpayers in Belfast."